A climate protester has sparked commuter chaos after locking herself to her steering wheel with a bike lock while blocking the Sydney Harbour Tunnel, leaving workers trapped bumper-to-bumper in their vehicles.
Hundreds of Blockade Australia demonstrators stormed the city about 8am on Monday, disrupting traffic as cops frantically tried to stop the parade with barricade fences.
A woman from the group’s Lismore contingent posted footage online of herself chained to her steering wheel while her white hatchback blocked traffic from entering the Harbour Tunnel.
‘I’m Mali, I’m 22. I’m [here] in protest of the climate destruction that is happening in this continent right now,’ she says.
‘There are some really angry people who are screaming and threatening me – banging on windows and doors.’
A protester blocked the Sydney Harbour Tunnel and locked herself to her steering wheel with a bike lock
The woman’s white hatchback was parked sideways over two lanes of traffic
An outraged commuter can be seen during the video approaching her car and yelling at her through a window.
‘Guess what f** wit? You’re going to jail!’ he screams.
‘They are going to love you in there!’
Police eventually arrived at the scene and demanded she get out of the car, before she was arrested.
It comes as
- Hundreds of protesters raged through the city, hurling debris and even wheelie bins at police officers in a bid to slow them down
- NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet described the demonstrators as ‘bloody idiots’ in a scathing statement
- TV vision appeared to show an SUV nudging people standing in the middle of the road out of the way. It wasn’t immediately clear if they were protesters
All traffic had been diverted via the Harbour Bridge and traffic was backed up for several kilometres.
The tunnel was reopened after the car was removed, the Transport management Centre said at 9.12am.
In a statement, the radical group said their week-long protest activities had ‘begun’ with ‘its Sydney mobilization to resist climate destruction’.
Police officers surrounded the white hatchback as blocked traffic backed up for several kilometres
The woman was eventually arrested by several officers
A police officer was seen in a stand-off with a protester as the activist attempted to move a barricade
A man picked up a barricade fence and ran away as protests choked traffic in the CBD on Monday
‘Sydney is where Australia’s operation began, and for more than two centuries, it has been where Australia’s destruction of this continent has been most intense,’ a spokesperson for the group said.
‘The institutions of Australia are concentrations of coercive power that enable this exploitation. Our collective survival rests on organised opposition and the use of strategic direct action to stand against this project of destruction.
‘Blockade Australia will continue to cause disruption and resist climate destruction in the days to come.’
As commuters began heading into the city for work, throngs of protesters descended on Elizabeth Street before marching around Hyde Park towards NSW Parliament.
The crowd was forced to disperse when it was blocked by police at the intersection of George and Bridge streets, blocking access to the Harbour Bridge.
Blockade Australia said it would hold a press conference at 2.30pm at Redfern Park.
Hundreds descended on Sydney’s centre, carrying signs and chanting as they demanded action for climate change
Protesters hold a sign outside the Sydney Harbour Tunnel as a car blocks off traffic
The group had made plans to ‘run or disperse’ through the city in a message sent out via an app on Sunday night, with leaders distributing legal advice to members ahead of the protest.
The organisers also gave instructions for how activists can wreak havoc on traffic in the CBD.
‘This won’t be like a regular rally with speeches and a lot of time standing around – we will be meeting at 8am sharp and then moving quickly from there,’ the memo read.
‘Depending on police tactics you may be required to run or disperse depending on your abilities. Be prepared to walk on roads and stop cars from passing.’
Protesters were urged to keep their phone notifications turned off and ensure devices were password protected.
The advice also told demonstrators to only say ‘no comment’ if arrested and warned against wearing ‘contact lenses, makeup or oily sunscreen’ to reduce injury if pepper sprayed.
The event had been publicised over the group’s online channels for weeks, with participants offered workshops for ‘legal’, ‘street welfare’, and ‘medic’ training.
A police officer picks up milk crates left on the street as demonstrators were seen throwing bins and objects into the path of police to slow them down
Climate activist group Blockade Australia are set to launch a week of mass demonstrations from Monday
Protesters were given legal advice in a message distributed via a messaging app on Sunday night
In marketing material for the June 27- July 2 rally, the group said they intend to converge’ on Sydney to ‘blockade the streets of Australia’s most important political and economic centre and cause disruption that cannot be ignored’.
The protest comes just days after police raided their Blue Mountains compound on June 19 amid an investigation into ‘unauthorised protest activity’.
Blockade Australia has made headlines in recent months over a series of high-profile climate protests which have included blocking coal ports, bridges, and fossil fuel terminals.
In April, the NSW parliament ushered in a raft of new laws and penalties aimed at discouraging protesters who disrupt traffic on bridges and tunnels in response to the group’s stunts.
Protesters face a maximum penalty of two years’ jail and $22,000 fines for disrupting traffic or preventing access on roads.
The legislation also created new offences targeting people blocking access to major facilities such as ports and railways.
Police seized concrete barrels and locks from the protest group’s Colo campground on June 19